I’ve been officially dating for over a year now. This is by far the longest either of us has been in a relationship (without any break-ups in between, that is). I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how different we both are with each other than we were in our past relationships – trying to figure out why, after all this time, we have been successful. I do believe that good relationships are part fate but it takes more than fate to keep the love alive. I’ve come up with a few ideas and I’d like to share them with you. So here it is, listed in no particular order – my tips for keeping a healthy relationship:
Take it slow in the beginning.
I’ve written about this before – We spent almost two years together without actually being “together.” I will admit – this was a frustrating time for me. I wanted to be with him for real but he kept telling me to be patient – that it wasn’t time to be official boyfriend/girlfriend. I wasn’t used to this at all – my past relationships have ALWAYS been rushed and have ended because I didn’t get to see certain sides of that person until we were already months into a relationship. By the time he and I became official last summer, we knew all there was to know about each other – the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Give each other space to do their own thing….
I’ve been living with him this past summer as I’ve been fulfilling my internship requirement for my degree. Even in the one bedroom apartment that we’ve shared the past three months, we haven’t run into many conflicts. I think it’s because we both understand that, as much as we love spending time together, we need time to do what we love individually. At night during the week, I will lay on the couch and watch TV, Facebook creep, read or throw on some headphones and catch up on some show on Netflix while he does his own thing playing his video games. I’ve also gone home a couple of times this weekend to spend time with my family and give him the weekend to do what he would do if I wasn’t there. Too many times, I’ve seen girls who demand 100% of her boyfriend’s attention 100% of the time. If either of you lose sight of your own hobbies or interests, there can be tension or resentment develop between the two of you.
….But still try to take in interest in what he or she is doing.
As important as it is to keep up with your interests, part of loving someone is learning to love all parts of that person. There are so many things that I enjoy doing with him now that I never pictured myself enjoying. For example, he has introduced me to fun video games that, although I’m not particularly good at, I actually like to do. He makes sure to include me in the two player games (even if it does mess up his progress a little) and even lets me try the one-player games while he sits beside me and guides me through a level. There are also so many times I will be reading or watching a show and he will stop the video game he is playing to ask me about what’s going on or how I’m liking it. It feels nice to know he’s taking an interest and cares about the things I like.
Keep his (and your) past in the past.
It doesn’t matter who you were three years ago as long as who you are today is a better, more mature person. Looking into someone’s past relationships and situations can cause a lot of insecurity. I’ve experienced this firsthand. I will be the first to admit, when the Facebook Timeline first came out, I took a look at his. It really stung to scroll through and see the conversations he had with his ex, see all of the fun things he got to do with her, and even some of the posts he made about her. But now, I understand that, just as I have matured – so as he. He may act differently with me than he did with his ex girlfriends, but there is also a reason we have lasted longer than any other relationship either of us has had previously. I can’t let myself get insecure or compare our relationship to relationships we’ve had with other people. We are two different people in a whole new relationship and we are finding our own way. It is important to develop new memories with him instead of trying to replay the old relationship – we all know how that ended. In hindsight – I shouldn’t have looked through his timeline. And I never will again – because it TRULY doesn’t matter. I know all I need to know about where he’s been – and I still can’t wait to move forward in my life with him – without feeling insecure.
Keep your issues between the two of you.
In my past relationships, if something bad were to happen or if I were to get into an argument with an ex, I would run to a friend or a family member and talk to them about it – trying to get advice. But looking back, I realize that I was talking to the wrong person. With him, in the few small bumps that we have had, he has always been sure to open up with me about it, and I with him. We don’t air our dirty laundry in front of or directly to other people. We talk it out and hear what the other is thinking. Talking about issues to a friend can cause your friend to develop preconceived opinions about your boyfriend or girlfriend (because a good friend always takes your side). So then the next time you have something good to say about him or her, your friend can downplay the good by bringing up the issue from the past – just because that’s all she knows about your relationship. Keep the drama to a minimum and fix your issues by working it out between the two of you. The good you share together is a two-way street, no need to make the not so good a four-way stop by bringing other’s opinions in. They’re not the ones who will suffer if it goes bad and, in the end, they truly don’t know the other person like you do.
Cut the drama.
I know that I have ranted about this before, but it is so true. Don’t constantly look for fights. Pick your battles – and pick them carefully. Is that issue really such an issue that it is worth ending your relationship? No? Then don’t fight about it. The truth is, you should never really need to “fight” – and I mean the screaming, slamming doors, stomping away, speeding off in a rage – that is just useless drama. If you need to talk about it, keep calm and keep your voice down. Be honest, but don’t point fingers. We all have our flaws and you have to learn to love your partner’s. You can’t constantly pick and pick and pick until he or she is molded into the person you want him or her to be. It won’t happen. A person won’t change who he or she truly is at the core – it’ll just be an act. Even if it makes you happy, that act will get old and resentment will develop. Don’t make a scene. Don’t constantly beg for attention. Don’t play the victim to those around you. Your life isn’t a movie where you can slap the guy across the face in the middle of town and he will come chasing after you and all will end romantically. Eventually, he will get tired of those “slaps” and that drama he will stop chasing you. Can you blame him? Not at all.
It’s okay to do nothing.
I know that some couples are constantly busying themselves – doing fun things, spending all their time in groups of other people. And yes, those planned activities and spending time with friends are fun and important – I am not saying that they’re not. But it is just as important to spend time alone, doing nothing, with just the two of you. Have a lazy day on the couch watching movies and making fun of the acting. Go to McDonalds for lunch and, instead of driving through and eating quickly on the way, go inside, take your time, and eat at one of the tables. It may not seem exciting or fancy (because it’s not) but those are special little moments where you truly get to be with just one another – not thinking or worrying or planning. Being able to do nothing together is incredibly important – because sometimes there will be NOTHING to do. Love isn’t about fancy dinners, expensive things, or planned trips. It’s about knowing that, if you lost everything else you had, you would have more than enough in just having him or her beside you.
I think that is all I have for now. I know that my relationship is not perfect – there is no such thing. But I do think our relationship is strong and stable and I am incredibly secure. He is my best friend, and I am his. I think that we got to this point by doing it differently than either of us have in the past – and we will move forward doing it differently, too. Good luck and remember – remind the one you love that you love them. It may seem obvious – but sometimes it’s feels so good to just be reassured.